During John Byrne's turn on the X-Men, he gave a lot of love to Wolverine (they were both Canadian) and soon created a breakout star. Any comic with him on the cover sold quickly, and then the time came to give Wolverine his own miniseries and eventually his own ongoing series.
The claws were absolutely no indication of that whatsoever.
|"Ignore the claws. I'm a normal guy."|
Wolverine was dropped into Madripoor, a locale created for the miniseries and the rest is history. Who would recognize this man now because he had such a convincing disguise?
Please keep in mind he was in Madripoor fighting guerillas and even the Silver Samurai, using nothing more than a fishnet for a mask and still no one figured out who he was.
The black costume died a quiet death eventually and Wolverine was back in his normal costume again, but the Patch identity has come back many times over the years to be used whenever a comic book writer saw fit.
Make fun of Clark Kent's glasses all you want, but at least he changed his hair style a little when he put them on. Imagine how ticked he'd be to find out all he needed to do was just throw on an eyepatch and the world would be none the wiser.